NBCUniversal, CBS Studios Latest to Suspend Overall Deals as Lorne Michaels, Dr. Phil and More Have Pacts Put on Hold

CBS Studios and NBCUniversal’s Universal Studio Group have suspended a new round of overall deals due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike.

On Wednesday, Disney TV joined the list of studios suspending deals, hitting the pause button on some first-look and overall pacts at 20th Television, Disney Branded Entertainment and ABC Signature. Among those affected are non-writing producing deals for actor-producers including Gina Rodriguez, Billy Porter, Mandy Moore and others who were not in active production at the time the strike began on May 2.

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It’s understood that Disney’s plan is to pay assistants who work for banners that have been suspended through the end of the year. Development executives tied to suspended deals will be paid through early October. The Disney suspensions were first reported by Deadline.

On the CBS Studios side, talkshow star Phil “Dr. Phil” McGraw, BET+’s “Kingdom Business” producer DeVon Franklin and “Nancy Drew” executive producer Lis Rowinski’s deals have all been suspended. At NBCUniversal, Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video was among the non-writing exec producer deals notified of their suspension.

Representatives for CBS Studios and USG declined to comment on the suspension of these deals Monday.

A source close to the situation at CBS Studios tells Variety non-suspended deals are still involved in active alternative, unscripted or animation projects at CBS Studios or other non-WGA activity. The insider says CBS Studios will be covering salary and benefits for assistants on the term deals through the end of the strike or the end of 2023, whichever comes first.

Similarly, an individual with knowledge of the situation told Variety that NBCUniversal has suspended overall deals across its studio group if the person under the deal can no longer render work due to the ongoing strike.

Among the top talent that CBS Studios has non-suspended overall deals with are “Star Trek” boss Alex Kurtzman and Secret Hideout, “Evil” producers Michelle and Robert King, James Corden’s Fulwell73 and Stephen Colbert. Sister studio MTV Entertainment is the home of a hefty deal with “Yellowstone” mastermind Taylor Sheridan.

The latest pause on CBS and NBCU pacts comes a week after rival studio Warner Bros. TV suspended deals with some of its top producers, including Greg Berlanti, Bill Lawrence, John Wells, Chuck Lorre and Mindy Kaling, as well as J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot shingle. It should be noted Wells and Lorre had their deals put on ice early in the strike, which began May 2. SAG-AFTRA joined the WGA on the picket lines July 14.

The latest news of suspensions comes months after Warner Bros. TV, along with Amazon, HBO, Warner Bros. TV, NBCUniversal, Disney, CBS Studios and other major struck studios already hit pause on some first-look and overall deals amid the ongoing writers strike. At NBCUniversal, for example, that meant that A-listers including Tina Fey and Mike Schur had already seen their deals suspended back then.

CBS Studios is owned by Paramount Global and Warner Bros. TV by Warner Bros. Discovery, two of the mega media companies represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the organization that is in charge of negotiating a new studio-writer deal with the WGA.

At this time, there is no indication that a deal will be reached between the AMPTP and the WGA or the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) any time soon.

The AMPTP and WGA did go back to the negotiating table in the past month but nothing has been accomplished. Most recently, the two sides traded barbs at the end of last week. The WGA said that studio members of the latter organization should break away and negotiate a separate deal, while the AMPTP called on the WGA to respond to their latest offer.

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